Susan Rojas: 2016 Spanish Market Del Corazón Award
Susan Rojas knows about the importance of introducing the arts to children at an early age to ensure that culture endures and evolves. That’s exactly what this year’s Spanish Market Del Corazón Award winner has done, both personally and professionally, for the past several decades.
Rojas, a retired elementary-school teacher, was honored with the Del Corazón Award for her volunteer work with Spanish Market, which she has been doing since 2000. Since 2004, she has also been active and instrumental in the event’s Youth Market committee and has seen many of these young market participants blossom into active and juried members of the adult Spanish Market.
“I have worked with the artists for many years,” the 71-year-old Rojas says, “and since Del Corazón comes from the artists, it was a real compliment!”
Rojas says that she spent 26 years teaching first- and second-graders, and she always incorporated art into her classroom lessons, even though it wasn’t part of the official course curriculum. “Now they don’t put a lot of emphasis on art because of testing.”
She has also been active with the Spanish Colonial Arts Society since 1995, including serving on its Education Committee, which was formed to ease the workload of the Youth Market director. During her teaching career at Kearny Elementary, Rojas made sure that artists visited her classrooms every year for talks and demonstrations, and she also accompanied them into other elementary school classrooms.
In college, Rojas majored in Spanish and minored in art. The arts have always been her personal passion, she says, even though no one in her immediate family was an artist, including her father, who was a professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of New Mexico.